Today I decided to take a trip to Korea’s first market: Gwangjang Shijang (Gwangjang Market – 광장시장).
The fact that I consider myself an avid shop-a-holic, plus having lived here for a year means that I was long overdue for a visit to this downtown Seoul staple.
While markets like Dongdaemun and Namdaemun seem to get a lot of attention, Gwangjang appears to go quietly unnoticed. Many friends of mine had never even heard of it, despite having lived here for quite some time.
Gwangjang’s main draws are its fabrics and textiles (many of which are supplied wholesale to other more well-known markets, in addition to being used to make Gwangjang’s famous hanboks) and its street food.
At one of the smaller entrances to the market
A hanbok store’s front display
Fabrics for sale
Walking through the market
Gift sets made from rice cakes and other snacks
The top eats at Gwangjang Market are bindatteok (빈대떡) – fried mung bean pancakes, and bibimbap (비빔밥) – mixed veggies served on top of rice with spicy chili paste.
Bibimbap is one of Korea’s signature dishes, and a favourite among international visitors. However, it’s not commonly seen as a street food, mainly because of the large space needed for its assembly.
Bindatteok is a heavy, oily dish, served best with makgeolli (막걸리) – Korean traditional rice wine. It’s also best eaten on cold, rainy days. It’s comfort food, for sure!
However, today was one of the most hot and humid days of the year, so I didn’t order any bindatteok. I wasn’t feeling hungry enough for bibimbap either, so I just looked ^_^
A woman selling mung bean pancake (bindatteok – 빈대떡)
People eating at the different vendors
Women selling pumpkin and sweet red bean porridge from giant cauldron-looking things
A man eating mixed veggies on rice (bibimbap – 비빔밥)
The various ingredients for bibimbap (비빔밥) are laid out. I got the impression that you get to pick and choose.
Tteok, tteok; I love tteok!
More gift sets – the octopus one caught my eye!
A woman making spicy fermented cabbage (kimchi – 김치),
More women selling bindatteok (mung bean pancake).
A woman selling various cosmetics and household products
Well, I won’t lie – Gwangjang Market didn’t really blow me away. I think if I’d tried the bindatteok or bibimbap I would’ve “gotten more” out of the experience. Otherwise, it just seemed like your typical Korean market.
I’d stay it’s still worth a visit, though!
- Hours: 7:00am to 10:00pm, although some vendors may open or close later/earlier.
- Subway: Jongno 5(o)-ga (Line 1, Exit 8) or Euljiro 4(sa)-ga (Lines 2 and 5, Exit 4)
- Website: http://www.kwangjangmarket.co.kr/ (Korean only)
A map of Seoul’s Jongno and Dongdaemun areas – Gwangjang Market is in the top-left corner (Photo: Visit Seoul)